Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Eating the Wild Garden: Dandelion Muffins and Violet Jam

Yesterday evening, after an afternoon of some weeding, though mostly seeding, (my mother's hand-collected seeds of delphiniums and snapdragons, along with some commercially purchased seeds of nasturtiums, Roma tomatoes, I went to a talk at my (currently) local library: Portage Public, entitled: Acorn Bread and Violet Jelly: Foraging for Edible Wild Foods, with the following description:

Learn how to identify wild plants and stir up delicious dishes made from wild plants. Your nature guide is Rita Bober. She and her husband Norm have been organic gardeners for over 40 years. They are turning their 15 acres into a Wild Life Habitat. They have chickens, turkeys, a beehive, and goats, and raise much of their own food through a large garden and orchard. Rita has planted and identified many edible and medicinal plants. Rita is a graduate of Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Studies Program. She trained with Eliot Cowan, the founder of Plant Spirit Medicine. Cosponsored by Fair Food Matters.

Of course, I ran into several friends there, most notably SF, who had,unbeknownst to me, been promoting it digitally, and Lz and Mg. I missed the first part, because I had decided to poke some last minute seeds in, in case it should rain this morning (which, of course, it did NOT; right now it's bright and sunny, lol!), but I don't think I missed that much...just their intro...a lot of the weeds and other wild plants I knew, and for me the most revealing part of it was the food: pine twig tea, the eponymous bread, which I found a bit bitter, the violet jelly (which was pink, and there was also elderberry, which was darker) but the most surprising was the dandelion flower muffins...very pretty, like with saffron threads, though mild in flavor.

So this AM, before I go out, and even before my coffee with mom and Martha, and also before upcoming, forecast rain, around noon, I decided, to get up early (before the sun, how unlike me!) and post. A littler research on dandelion muffins:

Unlike the first blog's author, Tea/Tara, I didn't start eating flowers until I was an adult...though the beauty of the pansies and nasturtiums in my salads has had friends cheering/cheered, on occasion.

Last year at my VERY local farmer's market they were selling spent daylily buds...which was a lovely idea, very Clan of the Cave Bear, but I just went home and harvested/deadheaded them, into omelettes, scrambled eggs, and burritos.

Well, Martha's on, so gotta go.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring night...Freeze

Here in MI, we had a FREEZE warning last night--temps in the 20's--some of our peonies have already budded: OH oh....

We covered the peonies, and the blooming pink fringed-edge tulips, along with some already-blooming native phlox, the crocosmia and others, and picked bunches of daffodils and old-fashioned sweet almond, and harvested some just-opening lilac, in case the temps got even lower than predicted. The flowering magnolia looks a bit worse for the wear, though the apple and crab apple, cherry and tart/"sour" cherry, are looking okay this afternoon.

The farmers and orchardists were *very* concerned about the damage to the developing flower buds of the fruit trees...Michigan is the 2nd most agriculturally diverse state due to the wide variety of microclimates afforded by the surrounding Great Lakes = GREAT farmer's markets!

Spring here had sprung by the vernal equinox (March 21) this year, and especially by Eostre a couple of weeks later, but we've had a number of 'freezes' since then; the last average frost date is in midMay. Our FABULOUS local weather guy, Keith, explains it here. (

Hopefully uncovered peonies, like those of my neighbor, will survive...because every year she prunes bushels of peonies in full bloom, and gives them to us! Our own peony party, like Martha Stewart's. (

Haven't had much time/energy to update my garden blog after first post...too busy gardening, though I have enjoyed my morning coffee with Martha and my Saturdays with Victory Garden and P. Allen Smith's Garden Home :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Martha's Media Reviewed, and Tips

Martha's Flower Food from her March 18 talk show:

Food for flowers for preservation...I liked this tip because it saves $ and prevents all those silly little plastic packets (something I was inspired to start doing, partly by the fab writings of Beth at:

In a large container (handy to have a spigot, like a 'Sun Tea' container)
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 2 C of corn syrup, this feeds the plants
  • 4 T of white vinegar, provides an acidic environment for the cut flowers
  • 4T liquid bleach; this prevents bacteria, especially important for flowers like carnations that are 'sticky, and generally for all flowers, to prevent green slime from building up in a few days
Shake well, and use as's hoping for lots of flowers in YOUR house!

MistressGardener's alternative: you can also use a T of bleach in a gallon of lemon-lime (not diet) soda pop

I've also used an aspirin tablet in expensive flower arrangements

Martha's Garden on Hallmark,, episode: Spring Flowering Bulbs

The British, so lovely to listen to with their lilting accent and passion for plants...and she IS *passionate*...a few little factoids that were fascinating:
  • Tulips originated in 'those incredible lands were you get Russia, and China, and Kazakhstan, and Mongolia, all meeting together...cradle of the tulip, then later by way of the Sultan's Court in 1451 in Turkey
  • at first people didn't know what they were, and what to call them, they were confused and called them lily or narcissus
  • Tulip Mania
Martha's Garden on Hallmark, today, episode: Identifying Trees
She toured a Magnolia tree farm...lots of varieties!

The magnolias are blooming now!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mistress Gardener welcomes you to my plot! Dandelions are dandy!

Welcome to my g a r d e n !
Welcome to my virtual garden! Let me introduce myself: I'm "Mistress Gardener". I call myself that because I'm a lapsed/former certified 'master gardener', originally certified in Arizona; but I've also gardened in temperate places (zone 5), and I currently work a bit of the Earth in SW MI, USA. I never really liked the term MASTER gardener...I thought it was *TOO* sexist, and also, for me, reminded of the master vs. slave relationship (but not in any good or saucy way) so I came up with my own, with a "twist": Mistress Gardener!
Welcome to my g a r d e n !

I will endeavour to write about green topics-either green, as in growing/plants OR green, as in ecological/sustainable. These support my philosophy of gardening: it's all about the plants, which should be grown easily, and healthily, for ourselves and our 'nest'.

I first became interested in gardening when I bought my first house...the responsibility and joy of my own yard took me over and I became OBSESSED! I started with vegetables, out of economic necessity, as a poor student, and then got into quickly into herbs and flowers, influenced by my Flora-loving mother; mostly annuals at first, then later perennials, and even trees, recently. My perspective as a young gardener was REALLY piqued and perplexed when I moved to the Sonoran Desert, and began gardening in and among the cacti! However, I soon figured out: in the desert the plants were different, but good gardening practices remained the same, whatever garden zone you're in, which led me to my own little rule- the "3 C's of Gardening"-compost, cultivation, and control...more on these in future posts.

Another interest of mine, literature*, is married (or at least shacking up with) gardening, in this blog:
which I first translated, in jr. HS French: go dig (cultivate) your garden. Even then I knew it had multiple layers of meaning, to be explored, once I actually started "dig!"-ing gardens, later....

So anyway, today was all about welcoming spring, by weeding, or, as I prefer to think of it- *harvesting* dandelions. Yes I said DANDELIONS!

I have been pulling them up from the backyard every spring after the rainy period...ya get more of the root that way...I was pulling them just by hand, but sometimes I've used a tool like a long screwdriver, which brings me to another future topic-tools-but I I pulled them and then did a little research, on the website of Susun Weed, a reknowned weed herbalist, and the results are summarized here:

Thus, the lowly, yet lovely little dandelion, has uses in anti-cancer, liver, blood, female reproductive and immune system health! Tinctures, recipes, and uses to follow in a future post.

Well, that's it for now...again: Welcome to my g a r d e n ! Enjoy!!!

*English Lang. & Literature degree conferred at:

Blowing dandelion picture borrowed from:

and thanks to: for interesting thoughts on divinity and gardening and the many levels of meaning in betwixt and between